2016 Legislative Session Wrap-Up: Part 1

Current Events & News, Legislation | 03/07/2016

Parasa Chanramy
Policy & Advocacy Manager

Parasa manages Stand's policy and advocacy programs, working with members and elected leaders to improve schools.

The short 2016 session is over. Phew! We made it. 

Before we give you a rundown, we’d like to thank the English Language Learners Advocates Coalition (Adelante Mujeres, Africa House, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Asian Family Center, Chalkboard Project, Center for Intercultural Organizing, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, Latino Network, Northwest Health Foundation, and Salem-Keizer Coalition for Equality); Oregon School Boards Association; Chalkboard Project; and Oregon Business Alliance for all of their hard work, support, and collaboration on different education bills this session.  

We also want to express our deepest gratitude to all of the lawmakers who stood up, spoke up, and voted for bills that will improve educational outcomes for kids in Oregon.

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty:

Education Investments in the Budget

High-quality early learning: Oregon lawmakers invested more than $5.3 million to bolster Head Start prekindergarten programs and released $17.5 million to expand access to high-quality, mixed-delivery preschool programs.

Support for Oregon Promise students: Lawmakers also invested $1.6 million for Oregon Promise students. These students will benefit from additional counseling and other support services aimed at improving academic success and graduation rates.

Overview of Key Education Bills that Passed

Chronic Absenteeism (HB 4002A, sponsored by Rep. Gallegos)

Did you know that 1 in 6 Oregon students was chronically absent last year, missing over 10 percent of their enrolled school days?

That is a LOT of students who are less likely to do well in school and graduate on time due to being chronically absent. Here’s a snapshot of Oregon’s troubling data:

  • In math, only 46% of chronically absent students met state standards, while 66% of students who are not chronically absent met the standards (a 20-point gap).
  • For reading, only 62% of chronically absent students met the standards, while 74% of students who are not chronically absent met standards (a 12-point gap).
  • In 12th grade, only 3 in 4 students who were chronically absent graduated high school in four years, compared to the 91% of students who had attended school more regularly (a 16-point gap).

HB 4002A will be critical in helping reduce chronic absenteeism in Oregon. This new legislation directs that the Governor’s Chief Education Office and the Oregon Department of Education to work together on a statewide plan to reduce chronic absenteeism. The plan must include the following:

  1. A process for publicly disclosing annual information on chronic absence rates for each school.
  2. Guidance and best practices for all schools and school districts to use to track, monitor, and address chronic absences and improve attendance.
  3. A process for identifying schools in need of support to reduce chronic absences and improve attendance.
  4. A description of technical assistance available to schools identified as being in need of support, including technical assistance that will be provided by the department or the office.
  5. The estimated costs associated with implementing the plan.

In developing this plan, the Chief Education Office and the Oregon Department of Education must collaborate with representatives of the Department of Human Services, Oregon Health Authority, Early Learning Division, and community and education stakeholders.

The Chief Education Office, in coordination with the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education, shall also distribute grant funding to qualifying school districts and education service districts who are interested in implementing a program to decrease rates of school absenteeism using trauma-informed approaches to education, health services, and intervention strategies.

HB 4002A fiscal note: $25,500 for the statewide plan and $500,000 for the pilot program.

HB 4002A vote break down:

  • House: 54-Yes votes; 4-No votes; 2-Excused
  • Senate: 26-Yes votes; 2-No votes; 2-Excused

Poverty Weight Reporting (HB 4057A, sponsored by Rep. Whisnant)

One in four students in Oregon were living in poverty in 2014—a 30% increase since 2008.

In order to learn more about the different investments districts are making in order to serve students living in poverty, HB 4057A draws from the recommendations from the HB 2968 Poverty Workgroup Report. This new legislation requires the Oregon Department of Education to produce a narrative report on how each district is spending their additional poverty weight dollars, and what best practices, programs, and services are being used to increase achievement for students from families in poverty. Under our State Funding Formula, school districts who have students living in poverty receive an additional 0.25 weight. The total revenue districts receive from the poverty weight is $137,716,520.

HB 4057A fiscal note: Minimal.

HB 4057A vote break down:

  • House: 55-Yes votes; 0-No votes; 5-Excused
  • Senate: 25-Yes votes; 0-No votes; 5-Excused


We've got plenty more education bills to cover, so stay tuned for more information coming later this week! We'll cover quality teaching and learning, ELL reporting, and more.


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